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Labelexpo Europe places an emphasis on Industry 4.0

By Greg Hrinya, Associate Editor | 10.02.17

Automation, speed and enhanced communication were a running theme at the event.

Labelexpo Europe, which took place from September 25-28, 2017, in Brussels, Belgium, highlighted the growing trend toward Industry 4.0. Automation, speed and enhanced communication were a running theme at the flagship label event.

The show welcomed a significant number of visitors to the Brussels Exposition Center, including 650 exhibitors. As part of the event, Automation Arena featured two automated press lines for digital and conventional label production. Guests had the ability to see the latest automated label and package printing technology, beginning with job creation and prepress and concluding with finishing and invoicing.

With Industry 4.0 becoming a reality, Automation Arena–debuting at Labelexpo Europe 2017–delivered three 30-minute presentations throughout each day of the show, concluding with one presentation on September 28. The event was held in collaboration with Cerm, Esko, Xeikon, MPS, Kocher + Beck, AVT, Rotocontrol, Matho and Wasberger.

“The Automation Arena gave attendees a good insight into the benefits of automation and a taste of how label and packaging production may evolve over the next 5-10 years,” said Jade Grace, Labelexpo Europe’s project director.

The materials for the live demonstrations were provided by Avery Dennison, and inks were supplied by Flint Group.

Conventional print runs took place on an MPS EF 430, 8-color press, and they then moved to a Kocher + Beck UR Precision 440 U non-stop splicer unwind and AVT’s Helios Product Line inspection unit. Digital files were sent to a Xeikon X-800 digital front end before running on a Xeikon 3300 press with an inline laser diecutting unit.

During HP’s press conference on the opening day of the event, Alon Bar-Shany emphasized the shift toward speed. “It’s important that we know where the market is going and bring our customers the solution,” he said. “The good news is the world is moving to a point where people are willing to pay a little more for quicker delivery times and better quality.”

At the show, HP announced an ongoing relationship with Esko. More converters are trending toward shorter runs, creating an increased demand for digital printing. Customers now require more jobs that can ship out immediately.

Esko launched WebCenter QuickStart for Labels, Automation Engine Quickstart for Labels, as well as ArtPro+ and Color Preflight in Automation Engine. Currently, there are 2,000 HP Indigo presses around the world being driven by Esko’s DFE.

As narrow web printers focus on packaging– one of the biggest growth segments with converters–prepress tools will become even more important in meeting deadlines.

According to Udo Panenka, Esko president, his company’s latest solutions can bring 30 days of implementation down to five days. By partnering with HP, Esko can provide quick answers for customizable packaging.

The trend went beyond digital printing, though. Paul Teachout, vice president of sales and marketing at Nilpeter, said his company’s newest FA press–unveiled at Labelexpo Europe–keeps with Industry 4.0 and “The Age of Automation.” “By automating our presses, it’s the opportune time to take advantage of streamlining our operations,” said Teachout. “This FA press can be built and designed to meet your ever-growing needs with multiple levels of automation and application packages. The CleanHand technology is operated through a wireless tablet control. It can be slid up and down the machine, or hand held by the operator.”

Omet’s press conference highlighted the benefits for conventional technologies, as the latest enhancements can meet the needs of both manufacturers and converters.

Marco Calcagni, sales and marketing director at Omet, said that Industry 4.0 drives companies to provide real-time data analysis, big data, a standard ethernet connection, and intelligent devices. These developments, which have been created for the next generation of millennials coming up through the workforce, lead to production increases and design improvements.

Keeping with Industry 4.0, Omet launched its Transparency Factory Cloud, which allows remote access to machines from anywhere in the world. The benefits include lower startup times and make-ready, as well as the prevention of possible downtimes during daily production.

Omet also unveiled Smart Glasses, which allow operators to communicate with their supplier directly on the machine, and the XFlex X 6.0 press. The XFlex X 6.0 features flexo stations with automatic pressure adjustment and intelligent cruise control. These developments are designed to support data analysis and strategic production planning.

A changing industry even stretched to substrate enhancements. Avery Dennison, with a booth theme of “Pioneering change,” focused on five zones of changes: Change the future, perceptions, horizons, the game, and the customer experience. The supplier’s labels are designed to open new markets for customers, including intelligent labels that feature RFID and NFC capabilities.

“One of the key things we do with innovation is following trends like merging the physical world to the digital world,” explained Hassan Rmaile, vice president of research and development, Label and Graphic Materials, Avery Dennison. “This includes the Internet of Things and robotics. I think we have the best experts in the industry (to handle these trends).”

Meanwhile, UPM Raflatac unveiled RafMore, a smart labeling solution for brand promotion, brand protection and logistic applications. RafMore is designed to give each and every labeled product a unique digital identity. The codes embedded into the label designs are stored in a cloud database and act as an information channel at every point on the product’s journey from creation to consumption.

In line with Automation Arena, Labelexpo also provided attendees with a master class on MIS and workflow automation on September 26. The 4-hour class was designed to educate converters on how to manage an efficient and profitable operation with today’s changing technologies.